Dear members of Garbage,
On one level, this will simply be yet another one of countless fan letters you must get. But what I hope you can appreciate is that, through your work, you touch millions but no single one of them in exactly the same way such that each expression of gratitude is, in its own way, fresh and unique. This is the true beauty and majesty of art in that it affects each individual in a profoundly personal way according to the experience and circumstances of that individual at that particular point in space/time.
For the sake of brevity, I cannot even begin to go into detail of all the different ways in which I feel gratitude towards you right now and why. For what it’s worth, however, as an unknown writer whose sole talent is the written word I have only this letter at my disposal. And in the off-chance that one of you might actually see it, I will make this as mercifully brief and to-the-point as possible.
The place was Tokyo, Japan. The event, Summer Sonic 2012.
Now, from your end, I don’t know how you felt about your show there, being just one of many in your current tour. From my vantage point, however – again, just one of many that was present that night in the audience – it was earth-shaking. A genuinely pivotal moment. The proverbial kick-in-the-ass.
Having not seen you live before, I didn’t know what to expect – hopefully, just a good, entertaining show. But something magical happened and I received so much more: music at its truest and most vital, written in blood and lit with fire. I saw dedicated artists and craftsmen at the top of their game (yes, still) giving their all with such a raw manifestation of passion, gusto and soul that I could have wept with awe and respect. This wasn’t just entertainment or a good time. It wasn’t even just music or art. I was in the presence of Truth, sacred and real. Hyperbole? To some, perhaps. To me, hardly.
There’s no room here to discuss the show’s technical aspects or merits. You touched me at the level of energy and spirit, not just technical virtuosity (though that was also evident, clearly). This isn’t, therefore, a concert review and I’m not qualified to write one, anyway. This is just a heartfelt “thank you,” whispered quietly and invisibly in the dark to strangers who probably will not even hear it.
The reason why I’m making this an open letter – specifically, posting it on my blog and Facebook page – is that, realistically, this will most likely not reach any of you, the actual members of the band, and that is quite all right. I am simply throwing this out into the ether as a personal testament to the perennial power of art to soothe and heal, to electrify and inspire, to transform and catalyze.
For numerous reasons and circumstances I have, as of late, been in something of a slump – physically, creatively, health-wise and career-wise. Simply by doing what you do, by giving a dazzling show, you have galvanized me out of my stupor and given me newfound inspiration to reach deep and pull myself out of this daze of self-pity and depression. I pledge, in return, to get up and take action, however small, in the ways I know how and within my circumference of reach, to not let this energy you have fed me go to waste, to do something that matters, to help and inspire people again just as I did before and just as you have done for me. And it begins here, today, with this bit of starstruck scribble which will be my first piece of publicly posted writing of any sort in over a year.
In this, our tired, frazzled, cynical and anxiety-ridden age, people want more than anything to just be inspired. You are, therefore, doing work that is as vital, important and urgently needed as anything else one can argue for. And whatever struggles may lie ahead for you in your career (long may it live), whatever hard-won wisdom you might forget in the midst of battle, I pray you will not forget this one thing at least.
Obstacles don’t matter. Age doesn’t matter. Fear doesn’t matter. Failure doesn’t matter. They are temporary and illusory.
Art matters. Music matters. Love matters. They are infinite and real.
Garbage, you matter.
May your sonic creations reverberate throughout all conceivable universes and may you rock on for all eternity like the gods you are.
Daniel Jun Kim
PS: To the gentlemen of the band, I was the Korean guy who shamelessly barged into your dressing room about an hour before your show in Tokyo, while you were in your underwear, asking you to sign my CDs. Thanks for tolerating me and for being funny and nice. And, Ms. Manson, I didn’t knock on your door ‘cause I felt weird about disturbing a lady’s dressing room when you could’ve been changing or whatever. Okay… actually, that wasn’t it. I just chickened out ‘cause you’re so hot. But, damn, I regret it.